Friday, April 30, 2010

Titans, Wounds

Ray Bradbury gets a mention in this Daily Telegraph interview with Ray Harryhausen. Bradbury and Harryhausen, of course, met in their teens. They shared a love of King Kong, dinosaurs and SF. In the 1950s they (sort of) collaborated on The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. In the 1990s, Bradbury fictionalised Harryhausen into a lead character in his novel A Graveyard for Lunatics.

Another friend of Bradbury and fellow dinosaur enthusiast is the artist William Stout. I don't know how I missed this at the time, but back in February Stout blogged about his visit to Pasadena to see one of Bradbury's plays. Stout was one of the illustrators for Bradbury's book Dinosaur Tales.

The writer Jonathan Walker has created an interesting looking book, which he is calling an "illuminated novel". He claims that the text, design and illustrations of Five Wounds have been concived together, and the website for the book makes it sound very intriguing. Walker's blog talks about many of the inspirations and ideas behind the novel, among which is Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fahrenheit 451, Gorman, Morton

Tim Hamilton's graphic adaptation of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 has been shortlisted for a 2010 Eisner Award in the category of best adpatation.

The blog Thought on Speculative Fiction has a short but interesting essay on the implied politics of Fahrenheit 451, relating it to the McCarthy period.

On his blog, novelist Ed Gorman has posted his review of the new Everyman edition of The Stories of Ray Bradbury. Although Gorman remains dubious about Bradbury's middle-period short fiction, he is in no doubts about Bradbury's later mystery novels, Death is a Lonely Business and A Graveyard for Lunatics.

Meanwhile, Bram Stoker-winning author Lisa Morton has blogged her reminiscences of a day she spent on the set of Something Wicked This Way Comes. She has recollections of Jonathan Pryce and Pam Grier (Mr Dark and the Dust Witch respectively), and some unique photos.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Libraries, Kuttner

I keep seeing Ray Bradbury referred to in campaigns to stop library closures. The image to the left is from a library in Charlotte, North Carolina. There is information about the local campaign here.

Henry Kuttner was an important formative influence on Ray Bradbury's early writing career, but Kuttner's work is little known today. Most recently, the so-so movie The Last Mimzy drew upon Kuttner's best known work, the short story "Mimsy Were The Borogoves" (written as Lewis Padgett). The bizarrely named blog Two-Fisted Tales of True-Life Weird Romance gives a neat biography of Kuttner, referencing Bradbury. The blog post also includes a complete Kuttner story, "Bells of Horror", taken from the pulp magazine Strange Stories. An earlier post in the same blog included some Thrilling Wonder Stories pages that contain biographies of 1940s pulp writers, including Kuttner.

In another blog, at Coilhouse, David Forbes contributes an excellent essay about how science fiction literature shifted from a position of technological optimism to a more bleak view. Forbes uses some excellent examples, taking us from early Heinlein and Astounding Stories magazine, through Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and Thomas Disch. It's a very thought-provoking essay, and a reminder that although Bradbury has only occasionally been an SF writer, his position in the genre is solid, thanks largely to the apparently anti-technology stance of his short story collection The Illustrated Man. We can argue all day about whether Bradbury is really anti-technology, and whether any of his work is really science fiction, but his influence on the field and genre of SF is unquestionable.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We'll Always Have Paris Review...

The Paris Review's latest issue carries one of Sam Weller's interviews with Ray Bradbury. Weller, of course, if Bradbury's official biographer, author of The Bradbury Chronicles. In the course of developing the biography, Weller undertook many hours of interviews with Bradbury. In June of this year, another book containing nothing but interviews will be released. Entitled Listen to the Echoes and consisting of over three hundred pages of chat, the book is available for pre-ordering now.

I confess to being a little (I emphasise little) tired of Bradbury's interviews, in the sense that he often reels out the same anecdotes again and again. But I attribute this to interviewers asking the same questions again and again. Steven Aggelis's Conversations with Ray Bradbury is fascinating precisely because Aggelis carefully selected interviews that allowed us to see how Bradbury's thought evolved over his career. I am hoping that Weller's Listen to the Echoes will work because his in-depth knowledge of Bradbury's life enables him to come up with new questions and new angles.

The Paris Review website has a short extract from the Weller/Bradbury interview, in which Bradbury amusingly recounts what happened when he was invited to adapt War and Peace for King Vidor.

The B-Movie Film Vault Blog has an amusing top ten of the best Ray Harryhausen creatures. At number nine is the rhedosaurus. This, of course, is the dinosaur that was The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, based on the Bradbury story also known as "The Fog Horn". My own review of the film can be found here.

Subterranean Press are highlighting reviews of their edition of Pleasure to Burn, a collection of the stories that were directly ancestral to Fahrenheit 451. I haven't yet seen the book in the flesh, but I believe it has essentially the same fiction content as Gauntlet's Match to Flame. As far as I can tell, however, only Match to Flame has the contextual essays from Jon Eller and Bill Touponce. There are some other small differences as well, but I can't quite figure them all out.

Urban Archipelago Films has announced the DVD release of their film Ray Bradbury's Chrysalis. I haven't seen the film yet, but I know it has been doing well on the festival circuit. The DVD will be out on 27 July 2010 - full details are here. I'm pretty sure this date was announced a while ago, but I may not have mentioned it on this site.

Ever wondered what "a Ray Bradbury" is? Maybe one of these Gene Roddenberrys will know the answer:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bradbury 13, Study guide, interview clips

Over twenty-five years since its production, the National Public Radio series Bradbury 13 is finally available on audio CD in an authorised version. The episodes have been available as MP3 downloads for soem time from The Twilight Zone radio store, but now Blackstone has the complete series on disc and in other formats. It can also be ordered through Amazon.

To learn about the making of the series, read my Bradbury 13 pages here.

I don't know who Mr Connor is, but his English class seems to be studying Bradbury's story "The Veldt". There are some interesting study guide notes - six pages' worth - on Mr Connor's blog here.

On YouTube, Global Science Productions have placed some preview clips of their one-hour documentary on the days of pulp magazines...featuring an interview with Ray Bradbury. For convenience, I have placed the clips below. You might also want to check out the DVD, here. The illustrative material and cutaways make this interview look interesting. This is the first time, for example, that I have seen the UCLA library.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Le Monstre...

I was amused to discover that The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was dubbed Le Monstre des Temps Perdus for French-speaking markets - this translates back into English as "the monster of lost times", unless I am very much mistaken. Presumably the fact that the critter was from the deepest depths wasn't enough for the French, so they empasised the depth of time instead. I discovered this thanks to this blog post from Hal Astell, which gives a neat review of the Bradbury-inspired, Harryhausen-animated movie which started the monster flick trend of the 1950s. My own page on the film, giving Bradbury's account of his involvement, is here.

Another Bradbury media review, this time of "The Screaming Woman" - one of the earliest Ray Bradbury Theatre episodes - can be found on My own review of that episode can be found here.

Finally, for filing under the heading of "the mind boggles" comes this production, shortly to open in New York:

Opera on Tap will present Operamission's production of the one-act opera Margot Alone in the Light, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's short story All Summer in a Day by composer Clint Borzoni and librettist Emily Conbere. Margot Alone in the Light was originally conceived during Borzoni and Conbere's participation as Resident Artists in American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program. Ray Bradbury's story is set in a classroom of schoolchildren on the planet Venus, where it rains constantly with the exception of one hour every seven years. None of the schoolchildren remember the sun, except for 'Margot,' who moved to Venus four years ago from Ohio. The role of 'Margot' will be portrayed by soprano Martha Guth and the role of 'Mrs. Clott,' the schoolteacher, will be sung by mezzo-soprano Alteouise de Vaughn. It will be staged by Scott C. Embler (founding member and former producing director of Vital Theatre Company). Jennifer Peterson, founder and director of operamission, will conduct the opera.

More details can be found at Broadway World.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Les Longues Annees, et autres

The French-language website Mars & SF has some details of a 1984 French publication called Planete Rouge, which seems to be a collection of French editions of the old EC Comics adaptations of Bradbury stories. The site carries a few page reproductions, from which I recognise the stories "The Dead Towns", "The Million-Year Picnic" and "The Long Years" (see left), among others.

If your French is as weak as mine, you might appreciate this Google translation of the page.

The website Conceptual Fiction has an insightful review of Bradbury's novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.

And further to my earlier post about a Fresno, California, stage production of Fahrenheit 451, here is a review of that production.

Speaking of stage productions, Terry Pace is staging three Bradbury productions in Alabama this year, as announced in this news story. The productions by his Pillar of Fire company are by way of celebrating Bradbury's 90th birthday. Other 90th birthday plans are firming up elsewhere, and I hope to post news of some of these in the coming weeks.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Bradbury on Screen

If you're looking for a new study guide to Fahrenheit 451, you might want to consider this lively new effort from In ten bitesize video chunks, you will receive an insight into Montag's world. According to the website:

"60second Recap™ wants to make the great works of literature accessible, relevant, and, frankly, irresistible to today’s teens. Through 60second Recap™ video albums, we seek to help teens engage with the best books out there ... not just to help them get better grades, but to help them build better lives."

Judging by the first video, the creators are well aware that 60 Second Recap potentially exemplifies the very things that Fahrenheit 451 rails against!

Another Bradbury-inspired animation has appeared on YouTube. This one is based on "I Sing the Body Electric!" and the 1980s TV movie adaptation The Electric Grandmother. Animated by Eric Kilkenny, this is I Wonder Where My Grandmother Is:

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

SoCal Sorcerers, Waukegan Dinos

Ray Bradbury has a lot in common with Richard Matheson. Both writers belong to the "Southern California" school of SF and fantasy writers, both have written extensively for film and television as well as print, and both have seen their finest works celebrated (and occasionally trashed) in adaptations created by others.

In 1979, by some quirk of fate, Matheson wrote the teleplay for Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles - which, in the hands of director Michael Anderson and producer Charles Fries, turned out to be one of those occasional trashings.

I see that Matheson's works as adapted for screen come under scrutiny in a new book by Matthew R. Bradley. Bradley has a blog, which has recently featured a great piece on another Matheson/Bradbury associate, William F. Nolan. Nolan also features in an interview here, where the secrets of his success and longevity are spelled out.

Please don't ask me why I was reading a web page for "seniors"... but I ran across this article about walking, which references Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian", and also repeats an amusing anecdote about Bob Dylan.

I'm sure Bradbury would be pleased to know that the public library in his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, now has dinosaurs - watch the new promo video:

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Like Fahrenheit 451's book-people, I value the content of a book more highly than its physical presentation. But even I was stopped in my tracks by this first edition of Dark Carnival being auctioned on eBay. The price tag of $3500 soon persuaded me to keep moving, nothing to see here...

If you are interested in collecting Bradbury collectibles, you should read the interesting little page on Abebooks. I don't have any of those really exotic editions, but I do have a few of the Gauntlet and Subterranean limited editions. I bought them to read, however; not as an investment!